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How Your Article Introduction Is Just Like “Fight Club”

The first rule of Fight Club is – nobody talks about Fight Club.

The first rule of intros is – nobody wants to feel like they’re reading an intro.

So, what does it mean for something to “feel like it’s an intro”?

Well, basically, said another way, you don’t want to start out with the obvious (all that on-the-nose stuff).

The Fight Club Rules of Intros

Think about it – how many items have you clicked on an article because the title was intriguing, but then you never finished reading the whole piece (or maybe didn’t even make it through the first paragraph) because the opening sentence made you think, “Well, duh?”

Starting out with the obvious isn’t exciting. It doesn’t provoke thought or shares. It doesn’t make anyone say, “OMG, you have to read this!” Instead, it makes you say, “I knew that already,” and click away.

Rather than fall victim to the “duh” factor, you need to kick off your article or blog entry in a way that piques the reader’s interest. That makes her think, “Dang, I’ve got to read this,” or, “This is something I don’t know.”

How to Grab Your Readers From the Top

  • Tell your reader something she doesn’t know.
  • Share something she does know, but in a whole new way.
  • Share a statistic that will shock her.
  • Share something funny.
  • Make her laugh.
  • Make her say, “Wow.”

The theme that runs through all those ideas for how to start your article is something called the curiosity gap. This is the gap between what your readers know and what they don’t know. If you can trigger that gap, then your readers are more likely to get pulled into your article.

They think, “Wait, I didn’t know that. I need to read more.” Or, “Wait, what’s the answer to that question? I better find out.”

Especially if it means your reader winds up knowing something more than her friends. And I don’t mean that in a condescending way, but rather, in the way that Malcolm Gladwell talks about “mavens.” Mavens are people who love to share new knowledge with the rest of us. We see them as authorities and count on them to keep us in the know. They help us fill that curiosity gap. So, conversely, they seek out that gap.

Think about that. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have those people who are most highly regarded as authorities being the people who spread your article?

That said, sometimes the curiosity gap gets a real bad rap since it’s used to create a lot of click-baity headlines and slick sales materials. But the powers of the gap don’t have to be used for evil. The gap can simply be a way to show your readers that you’re an expert on a topic and you have something new to share with them.

Let’s Go Over Those Rules Again

So, what’s the first rule? Nobody wants to feel like they’re reading an intro?

No, what’s the first rule of Fight Club? Oh yeah, nobody talks about Fight Club.

But why? Is there something I should know about Fight Club?

Yeah, there is – and that’s the curiosity gap right there.

Photo by Matthew Walsh (This file was derived from: MMAstandup.png) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Becca Borawski Jenkins
Writer & Editor
Becca Borawski Jenkins is an editor, writer, and writing coach. She is currently the Managing Editor at both The Whole Life Challenge and StrongFirst. She specializes in building authority and readership through high-quality content. She also coaches private clients, does developmental editing for non-fiction book projects, and ghostwrites for a variety of story-telling projects she can’t tell you anything about (but that are super, super fun).
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